Top critical review
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Great if it had been a stand-alone story
on 15 September 2013
I have to say that it's difficult to rate this book. I averaged the two ratings I would have given it and ended up with three stars. If it were a stand-alone novel, I would have given it 4, maybe 4.5 stars. It was interesting to find out how an innocent boy of fourteen could end up becoming one of the world's deadliest assassins. However, this is supposed to be a part of the Alex Rider series, and in that respect, I would have only given it two stars: it simply doesn't fit in with the background set out in the prior books.
I don't like spoilers, so won't get too specific, but I assume the reader is familiar with Yassen from Stormbreaker, Eagle Strike, Scorpia, and Snakehead. In this book, Yassen and John Rider's relationship and their time with Scorpia simply isn't in sync with the other books, especially with Snakehead and the story Alex's godfather Ash tells about Malta.
In fact, Malta is completely ignored in this book. I've made allowances in the past with the other books when a few small details don't match up between them, but this one I can't. Mdina is such an integral part of canon. Yassen and John are supposed to be partners, all the way until their assignment in Malta 'goes bad'. It's the motive behind Ash's actions in Snakehead, the motive in Eagle Strike for Yassen telling Alex about Scorpia in the first place. It makes the chapter 'Power Plus' in this book simply difficult to accept.
As a fan of the series, I was disappointed with how this book turned out. I really wanted to like it because it was well written. It started out strong, but failed for me in the end.